New Global Standard Links Climate Change, Biodiversity, and Sustainable Development

New Global Standard Links Climate Change, Biodiversity, and Sustainable Development

The nonprofit Climate, Community, and Biodiversity Project has released standards certifying land-use projects that reduce global warming while helping communities and conserving biodiversity. The new standards were launched at the 2005 Carbon Expo in Cologne Germany.

"With 16 expert authors, three renowned independent advising institutions, field tests on four continents and thousands of suggestions over two years -- we now have a good idea of what exceptional, multiple-benefit land management looks like." said John-O Niles, manager of the CCBA and one of the co-authors. "We've been surprised at how excited people are about the CCB Standards. "By the end of the year, $50 million worth of land use projects worldwide will be using the CCB Standards. This represents a tremendous paradigm shift in land management for many parts of the world."

The CCB standards are primarily designed for projects that mitigate climate change. Land-use projects, also called land use, land-use change, and forestry projects in climate circles (abbreviated to LULUCF) can reduce or prevent emissions by managing land in specific ways. Conserving threatened ecosystems, reforestation, agro-forestry, and bioenergy projects that grow wood for energy are examples of LULUCF activities that help lower atmospheric greenhouse gases. LULUCF projects in the past have been the subject of intense and sometimes acrimonious debates among governments, environmental groups, and others. Disagreement over LULUCF projects partly contributed to earlier deadlocks on the Kyoto Protocol before it finally entered into force a few months ago.

Said Bill Stanley, director of The Nature Conservancy's Climate Change Initiative, "Current policies to reduce global warming emissions do not do enough to encourage land use projects with biodiversity and social benefits. With these new standards we have a chance to change that and ensure multiple environmental gains. We hope the CCB standards will influence the array of policies emerging at the state, national and international level."

Niles added, "Requiring that projects pass the CCB Standards will bring credibility to any climate change policy or initiative, not just the Kyoto Protocol. Incredibly, the Kyoto Protocol ignores tropical deforestation -- the source of 20% of human greenhouse gas emissions. If the world wants to stabilize atmospheric greenhouse gas emissions at a reasonable level, stopping tropical deforestation has to be part of the solution. A project that meets the CCB Standards by saving tropical forests deserves international support. These are high-quality projects that an international peer review process has agreed help fight global warming while achieving local community and biodiversity benefits."

To earn approval under the CCB Standards, projects must satisfy fifteen required criteria to demonstrate compelling net benefits for fighting climate change, conserving biodiversity, and improving socio-economic conditions for local communities. Independent auditors will use the criteria to determine whether prospective projects demonstrate they yield truly additional benefits, in other words benefits that would not have occurred without the project. The mandatory criteria also ensure, among other things, that monitoring programs are in place, no carbon credits will be earned from GMO trees, and that communities are appropriately involved in the design of the project. Exceptional projects can earn Silver or Gold Status depending on how many optional criteria are met. Optional criteria cover issues such as native species use, climate change adaptation, water and soil resource enhancement, and community involvement.

The CCB Standards are the result of a rigorous development process, including expert input, peer-review and field-testing. Starting in 2003, various meetings were held to scope what the Standards should look like. An early draft was publicly circulated in the summer of 2004 to solicit broad feedback. Based on the comments received, subsequent drafts were developed and deliberated by more than a dozen expert authors. Later draft versions were field tested in Indonesia, Madagascar, Ecuador, Bolivia, Peru, Tanzania, and Scotland. Finally, the authors and the three independent Advising Institutions discussed all the comments and field test results. Agreement on the first edition of the standards was reached earlier this spring.

CCBA members include: BP, Conservation International, GFA Terra Systems, Hamburg Institute of International Economics, Intel, The Nature Conservancy, Pelangi, Weyerhaeuser, and SC Johnson. Three independent advising institutions also reviewed and helped write the CCB Standards, including World Agroforestry Center (formerly ICRAF) based in Kenya, the Centro Agronomico Tropical de Investigacion y Ensanansa (CATIE) based in Costa Rica, and the Center for International Forestry Research based in Indonesia.